Megan Driscoll, a Belhaven University Communication Major, recently wrote an article for an online news magazine based out of New York called Word News.
The story is below:
College students develop allegorical video game that goes beyond just entertainment
BY MEGAN DRISCOLL
JACKSON. Miss. (WordNews.org) April 23, 2012 – Imagine a video game where the Christian worldview is a foundational aspect of the storyline. Imagine a game that not only entertains the player, but teaches biblical principles as well. Imagine a character whose life mirrors that of every human’s struggles, adventures and search for fulfillment in life.
Lennie is a delivery-bot, a robot designed by the Narrator – the God character of the game – to deliver packages around the robot world. He is given a specific purpose for his life by his designer, but initially rejects it, pursuing his own path, which leads him down paths of confusion and unhappiness.
Lennie is the allegorical brainchild of college students Chad Harman, Joey Nelms, Scott Foreman and Kyle Woolley. Just finishing up their sophomore year at Belhaven University, these four guys collectively run a game developing company based out of Jackson, Miss. called Cryogenic Studios, LLC.
Combining the art of storytelling with visual media, Cryogenic Studios seeks to bring about meaningful, didactic entertainment. Their focus is on making clean content that serves the purpose of teaching people of all ages about living lives in service to their Creator.
“So much today, amusement is merely something to lose yourself in. The purpose of Cryogenic Studios is to create material that goes beyond the standard means of entertainment and beyond the standard view of amusement,” says Harman, director of studio projects.
Cryogenic Studios is a young, startup company, but the dream to produce meaningful video games has been in the guys’ minds since their freshman year.
The concept began with a simple sketch of a robot scribbled on the margin of a notebook, Harman’s idea of Lennie gave rise to Cryogenic Studio’s first major project. After showing the sketch to Nelms, and suggesting they make an allegorical video game, the guys jumped into the world of game development.
“Without giving much of the plot away, Lennie encounters a variety of scenarios that make life difficult for him to keep going on,” Harman says. “Throughout his robot life, he realizes that he will be able to go on only with the help of the Narrator’s voice in his life.”
This concept is one fundamental to the Christian worldview, yet oftentimes complicated by human selfishness.
“Lennie is a simple game. And its style is very indicative of its purpose. The game seeks to simplify every person’s walk on this earth in a stylistic 2D way,” says Nelms, the company’s director of concept art and design. “This way, people of all ages can relate to what Lennie is going through.”
Excited to work on such a unique project, Harman and Nelms recruited some of their friends at school to help with computer programming, conceptual art and level music composition.
“I think that’s the best thing about being in college and doing this, is the fact that you are surrounded by people who are good at what they do,” says Harman.
Belhaven University is a private Christian school in Jackson, Miss., known for its national arts accreditation.
“I love video games and everyone who works with us loves video games,” Harman says. “I see them as a medium to inspire and illustrate my personal Christian faith. That’s essentially why we decided to start a video game company.”
Building a company from the ground up is no easy task, however.
“Producing a game is very expensive. All the money we acquire right now is going into buying licenses, art supplies and purchasing copyrights. No one’s being paid a salary for their work yet. It’s all volunteer,” says Harman. “Everything we do is specifically private funding based. We have an investor and there are other investors who are looking into the product, but the need is still there.”
Cryogenic Studios plans to release Lennie in 2013. To learn more about Cryogenic Studios, LLC., their mission and upcoming projects, www.cryogenicstudios.com.